When you come to the guitar later in life, you begin to notice a fascinating pattern of players just like you who choose to learn The Blues, too.
Now, I’m not all that old — in fact, when I’m asked my age I routinely reply, “Twelve…” — but there is no doubt that those who take up the guitar later in life are drawn to learning The Blues instead of rock or heavy metal or even folk music.
Is it because, to these old men, The Blues speak to the eternal struggle to lead a human life that they must wrestle with as the days they have left are less than the days they have lived?
Do The Blues provide a masculine salve for the losses in life or do the The Blues resonate the life left for the living?
I have yet to meet a middle aged woman who took up the guitar and The
Blues. Perhaps they’ve had enough of that melody and rhythm to last a
One older guy said that instead of buying a car for his midlife crisis, he decided to buy a Fender Stratocaster and learn The Blues.
What do you think?
Do old guys take up The Blues for salvation or preservation or something else?
Well I think it is about knowing the real meaning of life. Regrets and all. Young people can sing blues but they don’t know blues.
That’s a keen way to put it, Anne. I like that thinking!
I agree there is a pattern in choosing to learn the Blues but the reason may vary – some can choose it as an expression for celebration where as some might choose it as a way to express their disappointment in life so far….we can never be sure what exactly unleashed the passion…
It is interesting how The Blues are usually not joyful. They are an expressed yearning for a different life.
I would hope the blues would not be joyful – otherwise they wouldn’t be blue! 🙂 I am sometimes reminded of classic klezmer music, which has an astonishing ability to express sadness through its notes.
It is interesting how masculine the blues are. I wonder if it is due to a lack of role models for women? That seems too simple an answer.
You will have to teach us about klezmer music, Gordon, so we can appreciate its haunting sadness. The Blues does seem to mainly be a masculine domain. A lot of the songs are about women, no job, and no prospects and the only thing left to do is to sing for expression and hope for joy.
I do wonder why there are so few female Blues guitar players. Is it because they don’t have any historically appropriate music to play? Is The Blues then sexist in its origins of exclusion?
Klezmer music goes back to the middle ages and Jews living in ghetto like configurations, with homes built atop other homes built atop other homes. The name apparently is a portmanteau of kli and zemer, meaning vessel of song.
Many instruments can be manipulated in tone to sound like a human crying.
Here is a band that plays more modern songs, but in klezmer style
The idea is to use the instruments to express different emotions. Laughter – wah wah wah wah. Etc.
Fantastic comment, Gordon. You should really expand it into a full on article for us here.
I think I understand your point now. Are we saying those who start learning blues later in life they identify with the spirit which is dark not because of just liking it?
There’s an old saying that in order to play the Blues you have to live the Blues. Young people probably have less opportunity for sour disappointment than their elders.